Your essential guide to strobing

Emily Ratajkowski Strobing Makeup Technique

Master the glow-enhancing technique

marie claire Contributor / May 25 2017

No longer just for backstage professionals, the strobing makeup technique has moved from runways to real life. But there’s a few need-to-knows if you want to master the technique like a pro. Here’s your ultimate cheat sheet. 

What it is

A fancy new name for highlighting, where light-reflective products bring features forward. 

What it isn’t

A glaring spotlight on the face that could read as greasy. You’ll still need powder where you usually shine, like around the nasolabial fold and forehead.

What you need

“I prefer creams as they’re more malleable, meld with the skin and give a glistening effect,” explains Gilbert Soliz, Marc Jacobs Beauty Global Makeup Artist. 

To shade: Pearly highlighters complement fair skins, pale gold or pink for medium tones, and deeper golds are best for olive skin tones. If in doubt, “champagne is neither too warm or too cool and works on a broad range of skin tones”, explains Soliz. 

The right finish: Soliz says younger women prefer a stronger, foiled effect, but for every day, the aim is a lustrous sheen. Try products with refined particles.

We recommend: BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Moonstone; M.A.C Strobe Cream Goldlite Gold Pearls; Hourglass Ambient Strobe Light Sculptor

BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Moonstone

M.A.C Strobe Cream Goldlite Gold Pearls

Hourglass Ambient Strobe Light Sculptor

Strobing method

Use fingertips to warm up the product, then “tap and blend where the sun would hit: tops of the cheekbones, bridge of the nose, Cupid’s bow, and the chin”, says Soliz. If you prefer a powder, use a brush. 

Prep: Primer is key. Soliz suggests a luminous foundation as “matte with strobing on top is too much of a contrast – a dewy foundation and highlighter is more flattering and tells the story a lot better”. 

Do: For added drama, strobe the orbital lobe, brow bone and inner corners of the eyes.

Don’t: Highlight the forehead, which can make you look too shiny, or the tip or ball of the chin: “The highlight should be just between the crease and lower lip,” explains Soliz.

Insider info

Soliz likes to highlight the earlobes. “You have to step back and see the whole picture – that’s why we take highlighter onto the collarbones and ears,” he says.


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Main image credit: Getty

A beauty editor and vitamin C fanatic who has worked across a range of print and digital publications, including Stellar, marie claire, Gritty Pretty and Badlands Journal.